Founded by University of Washington Professor of Psychiatry Marsha Linehan, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is a skill-building form of psychotherapy utilized by many of the country’s top clinicians. Our program focuses on developing strategies for emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness that clients can utilize in various areas of their lives. DBT is commonly practiced at SOBA Recovery Center in both individual and group sessions and has been shown to be effective for populations that find traditional forms of therapy challenging.

The Development of DBT

Dr. Linehan began developing DBT in the 1970s, when she sought to help individuals with suicidal ideation and chronic self-harm issues. At the time, therapists mainly used Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, to treat patients who experienced extreme emotional distress. Dr. Linehan and her team found that CBT’s intense focus on behavioral changes made clients feel invalidated and frustrated, sometimes leading many to abandon treatment altogether.

The Cornerstones of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

For individuals who face many life stressors and challenges, the core idea of “a life worth living” presented in DBT offers a path out of the constant suffering that many feel is inevitable. DBT at SOBA contains four modules, known as mindfulness, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotion regulation. Mindfulness is the idea of experiencing the present moment without judgment. Individuals engaging in mindfulness will notice a feeling or thought and simply let it pass. Distress tolerance teaches clients to endure challenging emotions without resorting to destructive behaviors. This is essential for anyone who regularly experiences intense emotions and thoughts. The module of interpersonal effectiveness focuses on a person’s relationships with others, giving them key skills to interact with everyone from loved ones to strangers in ways that are healthy for all parties involved. Finally, emotion regulation addresses long-term emotional stability and teaches clients how to prioritize their mental health over the long run.

DBT for Substance Abuse

The intense thoughts and feelings associated with substance abuse are often overwhelming for the user. Behavior patterns established over months or years of using inevitably lead to relapse unless the individual finds new ways to deal with cravings and mood swings. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy establishes skills which allow those struggling with substance abuse to carve out new, healthier patterns of behavior that lead them away from relapse and towards recovery. DBT group classes are especially helpful for substance users, as the supportive SOBA environment helps clients to remain committed to sobriety.

Long-Term Success With DBT

Dr. Linehan’s revolutionary form of therapy is being used at SOBA Recovery Center. Regardless of the issues with which clients struggle, DBT is effective in teaching vital skills which allow individuals to build a life worth living. Clients that remain committed to DBT have a high chance of being successful long-term and the opportunity to create a life they never knew was possible.

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